New Ways to Read

Our last class was the beginning of a semester-long conversation about literature, reading, writing, new forms of literacy.  As I think back to what we covered together, there really is so much to consider when thinking about the act of reading in our lives.  This quote from Jessica Pressman’s early article entitled “Navigating Electronic Literature” makes us all think further about how the act of reading might be changing: “Electronic Literature demonstrates how navigation is not only a central characteristic of the digital literary work and it’s aesthetic but also a primary source of its signification.”  Where is the source of meaning produced when we read?  How is the role of the reader changing?  Can a reader also be a part-author of text?  How so? I decided to have you all read Michael Joyce’s Twelve Blue in tandem with Pressman’s article as a way to build an early foundation for our journey into the world of electronic literature, and as a way to signal new experiences in reading and writing. We developed some collaborative notes on Twelve Blue and Pressman’s article are full of insight regarding these difficult questions.  

New ways to read…

I want to share that I am impressed with you all. You are willing to share your earnest impression of new ideas and new experiences …..and you have even expressed anxiety, and discomfort. Your openness is a good sign. Learning is often linked to forms of vulnerability.  And so your admittance of these unforeseen experiences in reading (at the start of our journey) is a sign that we are in for a great deal of authentic learning together in #elitclass!

Our class slides:


everything can be read, every surface, every silence, every breath, every vacancy, every eddy, every current, every body, every absence, every darkness, every light……

Some ideas to consider from our discussion last Wednesday:

Michael Joyce’s Twelve Blue = a reading experience; a conceptual exploration.

Many expressed frustration, and many felt a sense of exploration and discovery emerge after some more time spent with the text.  Perhaps we could claim that the piece was “writerly” but the story was never compelling because there was no cohesion.  You observed a lack of any discernible pathway to reading.   You also admitted that a lack of any identifiable closure was unsettling.

Themes/Motifs: reading & flowing; water- upstream/downstream, stillness & turbulence, being submerged, fluid and changing; memory; color; nature/seasons; traces; generations (young vs. more mature); history; perception (looking); multiple paths/multiple meanings; “skyways” (routes, infrastructure, mobility); self-referencial elements

Character, plot and relationships: there are relationship “networks” but there was definitely some confusion – some readers knew some characters, other readers knew others, some of our knowledge of the text overlapped, some did not, etc.

Reading strategies:   Some click on threads or the hyperlinks within the text randomly, some readers decide to stick consistently by a certain thread color, while others might discover the titles for each of the lexia tabs and use this as an attempt to “frame” possible meanings.  Some readers think about the number 12 as a clue to a reading strategy, while some attempt  basic “note taking” and/or “mapping” in an attempt to discern patterns or meanings.

Assessment: 12 Blue reminds us all of the active role of the reader in creation – we are “navigators” beyond just readers;   There is an underlying structure that cannot necessarily be apprehended but is determined by the code of the work. (This is the central illusion – that readers have agency through navigation, but still, the world is a closed design determined by the underlying code).

I think the idea of an illusion will be a keyword for us to consider throughout our exploration of #elit.  With Twelve Blue, we struggled to apprehend an ending, but perhaps there is beauty in the fragments.

Some critical/review articles

These articles give you an idea of how critics/scholars write about a text like 12 Blue (this is optional reading, but thought it might be interesting for you):

12 Strange, Blue Rains: Touch Evocations in Elit via Kathi Inman Berens

Selected Bibliography of Hypertext Criticism:

Postmodern Culture, Volume 8, Number 1, September 1997

Don’t Believe the Hype: Rereading Michael Joyce’s Afternoon and Twelve Blue by Anthony Enns (2001 in Currents in Electronic Literature)

Your to-do list:

-All of you have selected a date for your presentation.   A few of you still need to add you elit piece/selection into the Course Calendar.

-Remember we will meet in our Zoom room (see email or syllabus for link) on Sept. 22nd

-Read Like Stars in a Clear Night Sky

Read High Muck A Muck (we will do a walkthrough together in the beginning of class)

-Your third blog post is due.  Blog about your reading experience and understanding of High Muck A Muck and/or Like Stars in a Clear Night Sky

Thanks for a great start to the semester #elitclass. See you next week!

Dr. Zamora

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *